How To Ride Your Bike To Work

bike ride

It’s Wednesday, that means its time once again for my weekly article from GreenOptions. I write for them each Wednesday. That means The Sietch gets last weeks article :) Enjoy. If I told you that I was going to give you a magic device that would save you money, save the planet, and, oh yeah, firm up that flab you have been carrying around with you for the last couple of year (all for three easy payments of $19.95!), what would you say? Most people would be pretty stoked, but when I tell people that this magic device is a bicycle, the thrill dies down a little.

I have been in love with bike riding for years now, from the flat open roads of Ohio, to the bustling SUV traffic of Austin, the winding roads of Cape Cod, and now the horn-honking traffic of Boston. When I tell people that I ride my bike to work they say "that’s great" as they look at me like I might be a couple cards short of a deck. For most people, the conversation stops there, but for those of us who get more engaged, I usually end up hearing something like "I would love to ride my bike to work, but…" It’s the "buts" I am going to address today.

"But…it’s too dangerous."

I will not lie to you: riding your bike can be dangerous. You are on a little sliver of metal and rubber, and the cars and trucks are huge armored tanks in comparison. A few people do get hurt riding their bikes, but the vast majority of bike riders do not. There are several very easy and smart things you can do to minimize the danger of bike riding.

The first would be to wear your helmet. Your helmet will not save you from everything, but it is better than nothing. The second would be to follow the rules of the road. When you are a bike rider. you are considered a wheeled vehicle and that means you ride on the road, or margin (riding on the sidewalk is dangerous to pedestrians), you ride on the right side of the road, you stop at stop signs and red lights, and you use signals. You need to be aware of what is going on around you: just because someone looks at you doesn’t mean they are going to stop. You should ride defensively. In short, don’t ride like a crazy person, and chances are you will be fine.

It is important that you develop bike survival skills. These include things like riding in a straight line. Swerving all over the place makes cars nervous. Use your mirrors or learn to look behind you, in the same way you would look at your blind spot before you switch lanes. Following the rules of the road, and having the proper safety gear is going to go a long way towards keeping you safe; defensive driving will take you the rest.

"But… it’s too far to ride."

At each point in my life, the concept of "too far" has changed. When I first started riding, too far was 5 miles: the idea of riding my bike that long was just too hard to comprehend. I remember running laps in soccer practice as a child, and 5 miles was forever. The bicycle is one of the most efficient ways of using human power for travel. Using the gear and chain system of a bike, you can transfer relatively little effort into a lot of motion. Of course as you ride more, "too far" gets longer and longer. I now regularly go out for 20-40 mile rides, and don’t consider them far at all. The more you ride, the better you feel, so the more you want to ride.

Like anything in life, start small, and slowly push your range out. I find it is helpful to ride for a reason. I am going to ride to the store and get some chips and salsa. I am going to ride to the bank to deposit this check. I am going to ride to the video store to drop off this DVD. Having a goal takes your mind off of "how far." So many of the reasons we get into our cars nowadays are for short 3-10 mile jaunts that could easily be accomplished on a bike.

The six mile bike ride from my home to my office takes me about 30 minutes if I take my time. If I take the train, it takes about an hour. I have never tried to actually push my poor car through morning rush hour traffic to see how long that takes, but it would take a long time.

"But…it’s too cold/hot."

This is actually one of the few valid reasons for some people. If you have to show up to the board meeting in a suit and tie, and your office doesn’t offer showers, perhaps riding your bike to work on the day when it’s 100 degrees outside will not be the best idea. Similarly, if it is negative 30 out, you might want to take the bus. All that being said, there are many days during the year when it is cool enough in the morning to keep you from being a sweat ball when you get to work.

Riding your bike is an enjoyable pastime. You connect with your surroundings because you are not whizzing past them at 50 mph. If you ride at a measured pace, you will not work up too much of a sweat. One technique I often use is to bring my work clothes with me in a backpack, and change when I get to work. I like to push things a bit, and will try and ride throughout the year. Some states will even give your company money to install locker rooms and a shower. Contacting your local government will help you figure out if this is the case. I would suggest you ride your bike when you can, and don’t when you cant, even if that means you only ride your bike for a couple of months a year.

"But… there are no bike lanes/trails."

Having the leisure of having a bike lane or trail is great. You get the "road" to yourself, don’t have to deal with cars driving past, and, in general, have a nice relaxing ride. That being said, very few places in America have these trails that will bring you from where you live to where you work. You will need to ride in the street.

Most roads were meant to be used by more than just cars. You have a right to use a small portion of that road, and you should. It does take a little acclimation to get used to cars driving past you. Once you do, however, it is no different than cars driving past you in your own car, or when you are walking on the sidewalk.

I think the biggest problem dealing with this issue is that, in many modern cities, cars have become so dominant that highways and busy streets have taken over. But even here in Boston, I am able to find ample "back roads" to get the six miles to and from work without dealing with highways or busy roads. When I lived in Ohio, it was so simple to find quiet streets as to not even be an issue. There is no reason that you have to just accept the status quo: call up your local government and tell them you would like to see more bike lanes in your town.

"But… where will I put my briefcase?"

It is a fairly trivial bit of bike modification to install some bike bags (also called panniers) onto your bicycle. These will allow you carry your laptop, your briefcase, and a whole lot more if you go for the full front and back wheel system. You can also go old school and get one of the little “book shelf” racks for the back. While you are customizing your bike, I would also install some fenders to keep the occasional puddle from splashing up on you, and maybe a blinking light or two for dusk and dawn riding.

The good stuff.

Riding your bike will bring you many benefits: you will be stronger, look better and save a lot of money on gas. I like to fantasize that each and every one of the people I pass stuck in traffic secretly yearns to be with me swiftly riding past them on my way to and from work.

You daily commute can also turn into a very fun part of your day. My morning ride leaves me invigorated and ready for work, in a way no cup of coffee ever could, and the stress of the day seems to melt away on the bike ride home.

I will leave you with my person bike motto in the hope that it can help you become inspired to give bike riding a try. When it is cold outside, ride faster to warm up; when it is hot outside, ride faster to create a breeze. Happy pedaling!

216 thoughts on “How To Ride Your Bike To Work”

  1. Good Job!

    I totally agree. You might be interested to note that, statistically, you are safer cycling than driving a car… although you are more likely to get scratched and bruised, you are less likely to be killed or seriously injured. In many cases, it is faster to cycle than drive – especially for distances under 10 miles, or during peak hour traffic.

    Good luck all you keen cyclists!

  2. Ok, here is a good but…

    I have been riding my bike in Boston for the past summer and recently relocated to San Francisco, but my new office building doesn’t have showers.

    I’m planning to walk to work…although I could practically coast downhill…any advice on how to avoid being stinky after a ride into work?

  3. Hi Robot: Here is my strategy, I tend to get really sweaty, as much as I tell myself “ride slower” I find myself racing cars, racing bikes, racing myself. I just like to pedal hard. So when I get to work I am really sweaty.

    I bring my work cloths (I work in a nice office setting so button up shirts, nice pants etc) in a plastic bag (to keep my sweat from soaking through the Backpack onto them) and bring a thing of deodorant (not antiperspirant), which I apply AFTER I change out of my bike cloths, I also bring a small hand towel.

    So I get to work, go to the bathroom, take off my bike cloths, mop off the sweat, wait a minute, mop of the sweat again, liberally apply the deodorant (I use a kind that is more of a neutral scent so I can put as much as I want on with out getting too stinky), and even slather a bit on my lower back.

    I then change into my work cloths and drink a glass of cold water. The water helps to cool my core temp down so I stop sweating faster, and after about 5 minutes I am once again comfortable and ready to start my day. So far no complaints from my co-workers.

    At the end of the day I switch back to bike cloths and am off.

    Hope that helps.

  4. Pascal: I lock mine up at one of the many bike racks around downtown, but I guess if there was not a single think for miles around to lock your bike to you could bring it inside and put it in the office some place. I have never been to a place that didn’t have something I could lock my bike to.

    You could also get your company to buy a bike rack, some of them can be very cheap.

  5. I’ve wanted to do this for a while, but I live in New York, work in a high-rise, and generally wear a suit to work. I can’t walk into my office in the morning wearing shorts/tee because the seniors here (it is a very traditional firm) would be aghast. So my problems are (1) it’s impossible to do this in the summer, (2) there’s nowhere to park the bike, and (3) there are no showers in the office. The nearest shower is the gym, but going to the gym, locking up my bike, showering, changing, unlocking my bike, walking it to the office, locking it somewhere again becomes too much of an ordeal. I am also reluctant to lock my bike outside given that two bikes have been stolen after being parked outside in Manhattan.

    If we had an office shower and a bike storage room in this building, I may be able to pull it off. But since these things are not available, my only option is to wait until autumn, and use a lot of AXE.

  6. James: That sucks about the office squares, perhaps you could talk to them about shower facilities? They are also good for them all night team meetings when you have to wash and be ready for the next morning :) (just trying to help you out)

  7. How can you write an article about bike commuting and not include BABY WIPES!!!


    Seriously: the clothing/shower question is one of the bigger perceived obstacles to people. Baby wipes are the answer if you don’t have a shower. Bring a few and quickly scrub down in the stall. Personally a hand towel alone wouldn’t cut it for me as it doesn’t clean so much as dry. But baby wipes work great and are nicely compact.

    Carrying clothing is a problem addressed by many manufacturers, one solution is garment bag panniers (which are neat). Parking can be a problem in some areas; I never recommend an expensive bike for commuting for this reason. I don’t have indoor parking either.

    The “I can’t walk into the office wearing shorts” problem is another biggie for some. I do not work in this environment (I haave a shower in a non-high-rise), but I understand the reluctance and I’ve seen other people deal with it. Usually, the answer is to do a combination of:

    -Use a service/side entrance rather than the main entrance.
    -Do the changing/wipedown routine in a more remote bathroom (like off the lobby) rather than right next on/in your office.

    Eventually the guards will know you, and everyone else fails to recognize you dressed in non-office attire and thinks you’re the messenger. :)

  8. Biking to work is a phenomenal way to exercise and conserve our natural resources.

    What do you do in places like Orlando in the Summertime though!?

  9. “Too dangerous”? Most studies on the subject have shown that, mile for mile, cycling is no more dangerous than driving (in terms of drivers/cyclists getting killed — I’ve certainly gotten more skinned knees cycling than driving…), and in fact many studies have shown that adult, responsible cyclists are far safer than your average car driver.
    Most accidents you will get into as a cyclist are quite low-speed and not actually very dangerous (though they’re sure scary!)… the ones that make the nightly news, of cyclists getting smoked by speeding cars, make the nightly news because they are so infrequent. Fatal car accidents don’t make the nightly news anymore…

  10. Erik: I used to live in Austin Texas, and I rode myself into and back to work every day. My solution was to leave early in the morning to beat the morning heat (and traffic) and on the way home I sweat like a pig.

  11. I’ve been bike commuting at minimum 3 days a week for almost 7 years in DC. It’s wonderful! For the last three years, in fact, I’ve commuted by bike, rain or shine, hot or cold 5 days a week.

    I guess I’m lucky in that all the places I’ve worked in DC have bike racks in the underground parking garages.

    Anyway, it can’t be said enough, that you have to play by the rules. Don’t ride like a messenger. Unless you’re 19, and do it for a living, you probably don’t have the skill to ride like a messenger — and this is coming from a guy who rides a fixie. I respect the rules of the road.

    But, that being said, ride as if you’re invisible. Cars don’t see you, be it because the drivers’ eye are focused for cars, or because they honestly don’t care about bikes. So the most important thing for you to do is to look ahead 100 feet at minimum no matter what and have at least 2 escape strategies planned at all times. Cars/busses and especially taxies will do dangerous things and you’d best be prepared.

    In the first 3 years of bike commuting I was hit by cars 4 times. None were bad, but none were fun, either. Now I ride as if all cars want to run me over, and I’ve not been hit, since.

  12. the one thing i would say about this post is bike lights are not a maybe. they are required by law in most states. as a person who has been both a pizza delivery guy and a bike messenger, they are indispensable safety equipment. if cars cant see you, you are at much higher level of risk.

  13. I have been riding my bike to work everyday for the past 3 years…through rain, 115 degree heat and cold. I have never had a shower at work and I am lucky enough not to stink when i get to work…but i usually look like a cherry tomato until I cool down…patting your face with a cool washcloth or even a wet paper towel help as well as …especially for the extreme heat that I face, using a camelback and keeping hydrated, I usually add a little gatorade or something similar into my water so my electrolytes stay balanced. Do watch out for the crazies that think they own the road because they are in a car, but they are easy to avoid if you can spot them. My office complex does not have any bike racks outside so they let me bring it into the front lobby. You would be surprised how willing companies can be to support their employees doing something green!

  14. I ride my bike to work every day in the summer in New Orleans (which is rather warm)–I find that if I keep just the right speed, I don’t sweat much until I stop, so if I can do that I arrive not very sweaty at all. Also I shower just before leaving so that I already have the cooling evaporation process going in my wet hair which makes me sweat less. I just wear my slacks when riding and keep the shirt in the bag, then wipe off and change shirts when I get to the office.
    Also, I think sweat is a little more acceptable down here, so that helps on extraordinarily hot days.
    Biking is so much damn fun.

  15. Damn, this blog just inspired me. I drive a Jaguar normally though these days I work from home all the time. Even going to the post I take the car and its half a mile. I’ve just been out, pumped the tires on the bike and am ready to go… tomorrow! Hope I still feel this jazzed about it then

  16. There are a few articles out there on winter riding. This past winter was the first that I rode through the winter, and I loved it. I live in Seattle, so our winters are fairly moderate. With the proper gear, I was able to ride through cold rainshowers with no problems. I avoid riding in snow and freezing temperatures, and it is nice that I have a shower waiting for me on both ends of my 6 mile commute. To those who think they can’t do it, I say look into it and give it a try!

  17. I wanted to add to the question about being sweaty when I get to work.

    My office does have showers, and I thought I’d need to use them every day but I never have had to so far. I bring a new shirt along (my workplace is casual so shorts is fine). But, I’m definitely a sweater so my trick is that once I get to work I sit or walk around for 5-10 mins, get nice and cooled off, then go in and change, put on some new deodorant, etc.

  18. I rode into work this morning. It was a tad bit warm, so I was pretty sweaty when I arrived. Just like Naib wrote, when I get to the office I first take all of my clothes off. I then cool off for a few minutes before I start wiping myself off with a towel. Once that is done, I apply a neutral smelling deodorant. To avoid the sweaty backpack thing, I have some panniers on my commuter bike, so I have nothing on my back. Inside I keep my clothes and shoes and some snacks. I am also lucky that we have a bike path where I am for the majority of the ride. My ride is 11 miles one way, and I am only on the road with cars for about 3 miles of it. When I do ride on the road, I ride very defensively and never pretend that I am car, and that they must look out for me. Too dangerous.

  19. This is great! I love being on my bike, and I love riding downtown. It feels like everyone in their cars are stuck in the mud while I fly above them.

    One objection I hear often is “my bike will get stolen”. I tell them to do these things:

    1. Get a good lock, and/or use more than one. lock-breaking needs specialized tools, and the tools to break a U-lock are not the same ones to beak a cable lock. Just make your bike harder to steal {and uglier!} than the one next to it.

    2. Uglify your bike. I painted one pink with “Jesus Saves” stickers all over. No punk would be caught dead on it.

    3. Don’t use an expensive bike. keep your Trek Lance Armstrong edition for weekend rides

  20. I’ve got one…..
    What if you live in PIttsburgh and the ONLY way to get to your office is over a river (or two) and through a tunnel…..
    The distance is only about 7 miles, but I am not even sure if bikes are legally permitted on the bridges around here.

  21. Commutting to work does not mean you have to commit to doing it every day forever. I commute one or two days per week in the fall, winter and spring in Phoenix. I take my clothes and supplies to work on Monday in the car and then I bike to work on whatever day seems like it has the best weather, least chance for a late night at the office or whatever. I tote the work clothes home on Friday in the car. I run errands on the way home from work in the car on Mondays. I live 9 miles from work and have a decent route with bike lanes and back streets to use. It takes me 45 minutes each way. It takes 30 to drive so I trade 60 minutes of frustrating traffic for 90 minutes of healthy, mind-healing excercise. I’m also lucky that I can roll my bike right into my office then go take a shower and dress in the fitness center. Bike commuting should be encouraged more and bike friendly streets and workplaces would get more people riding.

  22. where to leave bike at work? I do a lot of contract work in London, I can’t bank on the client having a bike rack, so I ride a Brompton. Not only can I take it on a train, tube or taxi, but I can sneak it under my desk.

  23. Good luck riding in Boston — I just moved from there and had many interesting experiences as bicyclist on the roads of Boston. Your post inspired me to write briefly about my experiences and the psychological aspects of bicycle riding. You can find it here.

  24. It’s really funny to read this article. :-)

    Here in Germany many people use their bikes to get to their work, school or anything. It’s a really normal thing here. Already little children are teached in school how to behave as a cyclist in traffic, it’s a own school subject. I think we have also much more bicycles paths, so it’s safer to ride a bike here.

    On short routes I use my bycicle as often as possible. It’s really good for your health, it doesn’t hurt the environment, it’s cheap and it’s even fun!

  25. my main problem is me ;)
    I’m just too lazy and not fit enough to ride the bike every day.
    My route is not very pretty, through the industrial area and sharing the road with loads of container trucks. And on my way back I have a very steep hill to climb.

    Well at least I ride on most the sunny days :p

  26. In the past two weeks I have decided to ride my bicycle to work. Being as it is only a mile and half, the trip is fairly easy. I do get sweaty and carry work clothes in my backpack. After arriving at work I sit in front of the fan checking me email for 10 to 15 minutes and once my body dries I change my clothes.

    Lucky for me there is extremely low pedestrian traffic on my path to work. This enables me to use the side walks and avoid the 50 mph traffic. I assume at some point I can get a ticket for it, but spending some cash so I can be safe is well worth it to me.

  27. Great article. It got me excited for riding again.

    I’m also in Boston. JP specifically and I landed myself a job all the way in Braintree. Any shortcuts, tips or roads that aren’t 93 you can recommend for getting from JP to braintree? Any help would be greatly appreciated… I don’t know how long I can handle commuting an hour each way on the T. I’m sure you know what I mean…

  28. Deano: I just moved to Boston myself, but from doing a couple Google searches, and looking at the map I carry with me, I see that there are a bunch of roads that go down, and cross over or under 93 from JP to BT. Your best bet would be to go out on a Saturday morning and ride around till you find a good rout. It doesn’t look that far maybe 11-15 miles, should take you like an hour, hour and a half if you ride slow. Good luck!

    try this

  29. What would you recommend for traversing dangerous neighborhoods? If I were to bike, I would have to skirt one of the most dangerous urban neighborhoods in the country.

  30. ChiSean: I ride through some rough neighborhoods every single day, I have never been bothered. I would suggest that if you are really worried alter your rout to go around. Otherwise ride steady, avoid eye contact with people, and don’t stop. I think you will most likely be fine, but if it is really bad like I said, go around.

  31. I’d like to see people’s recommendations on what physical part of the road to ride on. I’ve gotten honked at A LOT for riding in the middle of the road, when that’s the safest location for me in terms of parked cars opening doors into me. I give more than enough room to other cars to pass, but they don’t for whatever reason.

    In NYC, I generally bike a few blocks to the subway and then take it across the waterway into Manhattan. Saves me a bunch of time!

  32. I’ve commuted by bike for several years (fortunately there’s a handy bike path along the bank of the Hudson River in NYC so the main danger I face is joggers, and it’s nice and flat) and generally find that it’s BYOB, as in Bring Your Own Breeze… if it’s really hot stick to 15-17 mph and you don’t work up much of a sweat at all.

    Get a road bike rather than a mountain bike if the road/path is decent, those skinny high-pressure tires are quite a bit easier to get moving although the bumps really rattle your teeth.

    And I use a messenger bag, better than a backpack because it sits really low so you back doesn’t get sweaty and better than panniers because it’s easier on your possessions since you soak up most of the shock of bumps.

  33. Arseny: personally I ride about 3-4 feet from the edge, the edge being either the curb, or parked cars. This gives most cars and trucks enough room to pass, while allowing me to stick out far enough to avoid doors, and to be visible. This is only a rule of thumb, if road conditions change you have to adapt.

    I don’t think you should be in the middle of the road, as this is illegal, and dangerous. Only take the lane if you plan on turning left (be sure to look over your shoulder first, and signal), or if you have avoid something, or if you want to make sure the car behind you won’t pass you and then try and turn right in front of you.

    Hope this helps.

  34. To the few people who have asked questions about winter cycling, I have been riding year-round on the Western Canadian Prairies for three years now and can offer some advice:

    1) Studded tires! These are an absolute life saver in icy conditions, although you will definitely notice a huge increase in drag as you cycle. Just think of it as extra training. I bought Nokian 360s and would recommend them to anyone.

    2) Dress in synthetic materials or wool. Cotton kills in extremely cold conditions. Also dress for 10 minutes in to your ride. The first 5 minutes will be mighty cold but otherwise you’ll overheat and then freeze when you stop. Most people assume the greatest challenge of winter cycling is keeping warm, but it’s actually the opposite! One reason I love it so much is that I know I will be toasty warm within 5 minutes of leaving a building, whereas if I’m driving a car it takes quite a while to warm up.

    3) Check out the community at; there is a section dedicated to winter cycling.

    Have fun!

  35. I go to my local library almost every day and have frequently considered investing in a bicycle to use as an alternative to driving. What prevents me from actually following through with this idea is the fact that my apartment is on the third floor of a building that lacks an elevator. There is no bike rack, shed, carport, or anything to store a bicycle outside, and management has previously sent notices indicating bikes must be stowed inside the apartments. I’ve researched collapsible bikes, hoping I could stow it in my car’s trunk, but found them to be rather expensive. Do I have any other options? I just can’t imagine that I’d truly take my bike up and down three flights of stairs every day. Please let me know what you might recommend doing if you were me. Thanks for the great article.

  36. Another thing too is that once you start riding you don’t need to work as long to pay for gas, insurance and that motorized vehicle. Very soon you realize that you were only working in order to pay for a car to get to work so you stop working and just ride the bike all day with with visits to the library, beach and bar.

  37. One other thought…

    In many cities, the bus system also allows bike riders to stow their bicycles externally, or even under the bus in the luggage compartments for the larger ones. Here in Austin, for example, the regular city buses can accommodate up to two bicycles on the front rack (I’m not sure what happens when a third rider wants to come on board).

    The point is, in many places, you can do a hybrid bike/bus ride. That can sometimes get you past the busy streets or reduce the total commute time, but still provide some of the benefits of bike riding.

  38. Probably get flamed for offering a different perspective, but here goes: I’m not a cyclist. I’m a driver. Most of the cyclists I encounter here in Houston are annoying, frustrating, and downright dangerous, because they cannot keep up with the flow of traffic.

    Houston has a few bike lanes, but not many, and these are all after-thoughts, on roads specifically engineered for motor vehicles. I have personally seen a cyclist slam into a car, because the car turned right in front of the cyclist.

    The cyclist was in a bike lane and had a green light, so he did not slow as he was approaching the intersection. The driver was turning right from a right-hand lane, and never thought to look over his right shoulder before making that turn, despite the marked bike lane. Until I saw this collision, I would not have thought to look that way either, even with a bike lane clearly painted on the pavement. On streets with no bike lane, I am still unlikely to look that direction before turning right. (NOTE: The cyclist was obviously angry, but rode away without serious injury.)

    Because we do not have many bike lanes, cyclists in Houston usually impede traffic, creating islands of (dangerous) congestion as drivers are forced to slow and/or change lanes when they come up on a cyclist. These islands of congestion are dangerous, for the cyclist and for the drivers.

    When I’m on the road, it means I need to reach a destination, usually within a defined time-frame. I’m trying to get there as efficiently as possible. A cyclist who slows me down, makes me go around him, and increases my risk of an accident is not my friend.

    If you can keep up with traffic (usually about 30-35 mph on surface streets) while still obeying traffic laws (full stop at stop signs, etc.), then I’d love to meet you. I know I have never yet met a cyclist who could.

    I heartily approve of exercise and green solutions. However, I don’t approve of endangering yourself or those around you just because bike paths are not available. Lobby first, then ride.

  39. I just got home from my ride from work. Temp was 108 degrees. I have ridden my bike every day for almost 2 years. 5 miles each way. I don’t ride in the street because Southern California drivers WILL HIT YOU. I ride on the side walk and when coming home I ride opposite to traffic so that I can keep an eye on right hand turners usually with a cell phone at the right ear, oblivious to your existence. (When it is 108 degrees there are few pedestrians on the sidewalks.)

    Also, studies have shown over and over that bike helmets do not save lives when the collision is between a car and a bike. They only save lives if you fall and your collision is between you and THE PAVEMENT. Cars think they can come within inches of you when you are decked out in bike clothing and helmet. See studies on the internet.

  40. Great blog. I used to amass a century a week (100miles) commuting by bike for the last year. hot/cold/rain/easy snow. I bought a second set of wheels with slick tires for my mt. bike for pavement use. For trailrides I swap them for my regular rims with knobbies.

    But be careful out there. Definitely wear a helmet. I’m currently recuperating from a lost battle with a car (she was on her cell). Broke my back, head contusion and road rashed left arm. The one day I didn’t wear my helmet is the day this happened. Lucky I can still walk. Bike fame was bent and rims taco’d.


  41. Stomper: I would respond to your statement with the idea that roads are not in fact designed only for cars, look up your local laws and I am almost positive you will find that roads are to be shared by bike, car, buggy, motorcycle etc, equally.

    Bikers are not “holding up traffic” cars are. If the road was full of bikes the traffic would move swiftly all the time. It is our national obsession with our cars that has filled our streets and highways with traffic jams. If people only rode in cars when they had to (long distance, frail, large loads, etc) then there would be far fewer cars on the road, and far fewer pounds in the love handles.

    The incident you provided is exactly why cars should be more careful. They have the armor, bikes don’t. As someone who has been hit by a car, I can tell you it is never fun, and always scary. If you went 25 instead of 30 because you had to wait for a bike you would get to your destination a couple of minutes later, if you hit someone with your car they could die.

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  43. No, I am not disputing what the laws say. Sure, bikes have a legal right to share the road. But the roads in Houston are actually ENGINEERED for motor vehicles. The bike lanes here were painted on the pavement years later, as an afterthought, by repainting the motor vehicle lanes just a little narrower.

    Houston is designed for people to commute in cars. I occasionally see a cyclist pass cars in traffic (usually while waiting for a light), but it is far, far more common to see the cars passing the bikes — in scary, tentative, and altogether dangerous ways. In Houston, The Naib’s version is just wishful thinking. I’m reporting the facts.

    I like the way The Naib concluded that the collision I described means the DRIVER should be more careful. The driver was making a right turn from the righthand lane.

    Yes, it would be nice if drivers could learn to check over the right shoulder before making that turn — unless that increases the overall likelihood of a motor vehicle collision, because the driver should be checking the intersection instead (I don’t know how that would work out). It would also be nice if the cyclist, realizing that Houston drivers will not expect him to just keep going through their turn, would have slowed down when the car slowed to turn ( I don’t recall if the car signaled).

    Cyclists have to share the road as well. After all, sharing the road is a two-way street. And if you can’t safely use the road the way it is already being used, then it is both unfair and unrealistic to expect everyone else on the road to change his or her behavior just to accommodate you.

  44. What about just driving a big pickup? I had a really bad bike accident…bikes are not safe on the road with cars. You can act green and hip but when your head hits the asphalt maybe you will wish you hadn’t been.

  45. I bike from Brooklyn to midtown Manhattan and back home as often as I can. It’s not easy, as my building doesn’t allow bicycle racks or have a bicycle room, but I’ve found a garage a few blocks away that has a rack. As far as being sweaty goes, I stop at the gym on my way to the office from the garage — quick shower and change — and I’m ready to go. I also know people who keep shirts/change of clothes at the office.

  46. How about walking to work? I tried biking to work but it really didn’t give me enough exercise – half an hour a day perhaps. Walking to and from work and getting out at lunchtime gives me about 2 hours exercise a day. I’ve lost a lot more weight walking than I ever did biking.

    2 hours a day sounds impossible but I’ve been amazed at how easily I’ve found the time for it. I think the secret is not to try to do it all at once. I started taking the bus, walking to and from the bus stops. Then I found walking all the way only took about 10 minutes longer (and once, when the bus was late, it would have been quicker if I’d walked instead of waiting!). Now I take a more roundabout route which is longer but goes through a park.

  47. dhindhin: There are a host of ways to get a good bike! Yard sales, Goodwill stores or other thrift stores, using an online resource such as Freecycle ( or craigslist ( Also, there may be a bike cooperative in your community that you could use similar to this one I was active with in Worcester, Ma ( Lastly, you could go to a bike shop to see if they have some older models on clearance or in the back of the shop.

    Greg: I am a dispatcher for a transit company and our drivers radio me in instances with more than two bikes. The answer I give is the same everytime, they will have to wait for the next bus and we cannot allow bikes inside the bus since it would compromise the safety of passengers aboard the bus.

    Stomper: All I can think is that if the bicyclist had actually been driving a car and such an incident occurred, wouldn’t it have been considered a hit and run situation irregardless of whom was at fault? As far as I know, you are not supposed to leave the scene of a road accident until the police have been involved. As far as the road being engineered for cars with bikes being an afterthought, I would be interested to know stastically how many road projects for bicycle lanes have been carried out in such a fashion as you have described versus actually “engineering” the road with all forms of transportation in mind.


    All in all, awesome to see so much chat generated by a blog posting! I have started commuting by cycle more in the past few months and for the new job I have been hired for, I went to great pains to find an apartment that was in a short walk and even shorter bike ride to my job as well as being fortunate that all other necessities, such as groceries and laundry, are also within walking/biking distance. Possibly, if more had the luxury/opportunity/presence-of-mind to take on such a job and/or locate an apartment, maybe we would see more people out on those sidewalks or on that small space of the road where the cyclists coast by the stopped cars. Ride on!

  48. I’m a college bound guy and don’t know -how- to ride a bike. Any way I could learn without having to drop several hundred bucks on a starter bike?

  49. To sort-of defend Stomper, Houston really, REALLY is a driving city. It’s just the way it developed. We’re trying to retoactively fit a better public transport system (light rail) and it’s a nightmare. There are no consistent sidewalks, and only a small bike culture (growing cause it’s trendy). As a result, drivers seriously aren’t used to seeing/reacting to bikers (or pedestrians), and bikers/pedestrians can tend towards dangerous behavior (running stop signs/lights, never signaling turns, and keeping to the middle of the lane on high traffic roads.)

    I’ve almost hit countless joggers before dawn in my neighborhood because they think the middle of the road is a wonderful place to be… in dark clothing.

    I know drivers always need to be on the lookout for bikers, joggers, motorbikes, etc. But in reality you’re prepared for what you’re used to. Flash flooding? No problem, I’ll still make it to work on time. But some guy on his bike who may or may not follow traffic laws? Makes me a litte nervous.

  50. OK, not the best of starts today! I posted yesterday saying that I was going to start using my bike today instead of taking my car on the shortest of trips. I had a 9am meeting, so I gave myself half an hour to do a 3 mile trip. Nothing too bad although where I live is quite hilly. I worked out a route which would mean I wouldn’t need to ride on the road too much.

    In a nutshell, the following ‘issues’ from my trip:

    – where to put my laptop bag. I’d not thought about it and didn’t have a backpack. Will get one though. Ended up with the straps through the handlebars. Not elegant and it got in the way a bit

    – Arrived at my meeting, to be honest, sweating quite a bit. I was dressed smart-casual, but red faced and sweating isn’t the best start to a meeting. Luckily I know the guy and we’ve worked together for a while. He thought it was amusing.

    – Although it was only three miles, it was generally all up-hill, something I hadn’t thought about. Couple that with one unfit guy and you probably get the picture. Coming back was a breeze – literally

    I’m going to stick at it. I’ll take the bike to anything that I feel will be close. My daily transport is a Jaguar XK8, so doing this will help me to feel I’m doing my bit as well as keeping the miles off it

    Finally, I’d just discovered this site whilst I was looking for some kind of mechanism where I could ride a bike in the garage for exercise whilst charging up a battery (that I could then run my laptop from). I’ve still not discovered a solution for this, so if anyone knows one, would be great. In addition, many many years ago I read Dune, so it was nice to see a whole community online

  51. One thing I don’t understand is that people will fold their arms and grimace at you when you ride on the sidewalk.. Yet it’s “safe” for the cyclist to ride on the road?? Either way some one is in danger. I think the pedestrian would be in less danger due to the lower speeds traveled by the cyclist (as opposed to a 2000Lb car traveling at 50kmh)… Also, Why do people kick up a big stink when you ride your bike on the side of the road, in the opposite direction of the traffic?? Why? It’s safer for the cyclist to see what’s coming than to trust whatever is behind him/her.. I used to get honked and yelled at for riding the opposite direction of the traffic. To be honest, I don’t think they even knew why they were yelling.. Maybe they did it because it was different and too hard for them to comprehend. Or maybe they yelled because they saw someone else yelling? And finally, try to respect the cars that are behind you – there’s nothing more frustrating than being stuck behind a cyclist who is doing 10kmh in a 50 zone.. Cheers..

  52. One of the things I miss most about working from home is being able to commute by bike. You’re right that it’s a great way to arrive at work invigorated and ready to go. I find that the less I ride, the more nervous I get about riding in traffic, and thus the less I ride — it’s a vicious cycle. Commuting made me much more confident in traffic, even when I had to cross a highway overpass with vehicles merging on and off.

  53. In response to Gatzke, you ride in the direction of traffic flow because *it’s the law.* If I am following the rules of the road and you are not, you’re putting us both in danger when we meet head on. This is one of the things that drives me most crazy about other cyclists, btw — people seem to think that a bike lane is for bikes going in any direction, regardless of the direction of auto traffic. You don’t ride the wrong direction down a one-way street just because it’s the only street with a bike lane (or rather, you shouldn’t; people here in Philadelphia do it all the time). What’s worse is when there are bike lanes on both sides of a two-lane street, and I’m still faced with another cyclist coming right at me. This should never happen.

  54. I have to agree, for the love of Pete ride on the right side of the road. You wouldn’t drive your car on the wrong side of the road, you shouldn’t ride your bike on the wrong side. When I am out riding, and some other bike is coming right at me, I am forced to swerve somewhere to avoid them putting all of us in more danger. Go with the flow…

  55. I just stumbled on your site. Great job!

    Here in Orlando I just landed a job that is ~18 miles from home. Most of my path(s) is with medium to high traffic. Part of it is a bike path, so that part’s lucky enough.

    1. I disagree with the formal adherence to all of the bike rules. If I lived in Chicago or NYC then things would be different as far as hand signals, etc. Let’s face it, riding SEEMS dangerous to those who sit on their arse and eat potato chips all day, but it is probably safer than many car or even motorcycling driving due to the fact that you can SEE what is around you!

    2. I am lucky enough to not have a work conflict with the dress code, etc. I work for a tech company that even has a health benefit for gym purchases, running shoes, or even a bike as I recently learned. The brompton thing is cool, ha ha but it doesn’t look too comfortable; I’d love to try one out though…

    3. My strategy is to start EARLY and knock out half of my daily miles before the rush hour cranks into high gear. The return trip will be a challenge. After working a whole day, that will be a lot to ride AFTER the morning soreness (right?). Also I have to get some kinda quick and foolproof system for quick tire changes, etc. —just like with a car, I’ve gotta get past any flats QUICKLY so I can work!!!

    I am at the fattest body weight ever in my life, and I have not ridden a bike since I did the Bike Ride Across Georgia in 1997. BRAG put me through a lot of miles per day, but then again I had all day to get there. Also I am really financially strapped right now. If this works well I will be selling my car and saving some money that way, sharing one car for the family.

    4. I too believe in the ‘rule of law’ in my life, but when it comes to whether I think people are gonna run me over, all bets are off. I would have no problem telling a judge, cop, or jury that I ride the way I ride, because of my fear for getting killed. It sounds believable coming from me, because that is how I sincerely feel about this.

    5. I am worried about how to build up to 18 miles. Someone is going to give me a bike soon and that is great, and I will go out on the weekends. But I do not know how long it might take me to work up to this! Have any of you done this and what were your experiences as far as a ramp-up period?

    6. Funny. I think people on motorcycles are crazy without a helmet. I do not want to wear one. I will not be going too terribly fast. I will cross the road when I feel like it, go around cars, jump curbs, and generally ride however I want. Part of my trip as I have mapped it out, will be on the right part of the road, part of it will be in the street, and part of it will be on the left side of the road. I am getting a mountain type bike frame and putting slick city tires on it. I have no intention of dressing up like a neon Christmas present with the bike gear either, although I might invest in some shorts to keep the friction minimized.

    Any advice on any of this is greatly appreciated —

  56. Hi Scmoe: I will try and address your questions in order
    1. I would say that in places like Chicago and NYC you will find that people follow the rules of the road far less than in less bike intensive cities. In places that don’t have a lot of bike following the rules of the road is even more important because cars will not be looking for you.

    2. Thats great!

    3. If you work up to that sort of distance you shouldn’t experience much in the way of soreness. Biking is far less intensive on the joints than running or walking long distances. You are able to coast for some distance on hills, and good use of the gears will save your knees the pain.

    Changing a tube on a bike is very simple, you can get everything you will need at a local bike shop for under 100 bucks (if you buy a tube, a tire, a pump, a set of bike spoons) most likely far cheaper. Changing a flat on a bike takes about 10 minutes once you get the hang of it.

    If you feel out of shape I would recommend you try the ride a couple of times on the weekend to see what sort of time you are looking at, your strategy to get up early is a good one as there will be less heat and less cars. Being a little bigger just means you will go down the hills faster :) (of course you have to go up them first )

    4. you can tell the judge anything you want, it is however unlikely that you would not get a fine or jail time if you didn’t follow the rules of the road and someone got hurt or property damaged.

    5. 18 miles seems like a long way to ride your bike, but I bet with a couple of weeks of practise you could easily ride that distance in about an hour. When I first got into cycling I would go out on sunday morning and just sort of tool around town for half a day. No real destination in mind, just ride around looking at shops, or exploring new places, I would put in about 20 miles or riding but it would take me all day.

    When I get more serious about biking I would set out routes, 5 miles is a good starting point if you are really new to biking. Pick a task you to often that requires you drive less than 10 miles. Instead try and do that task with your bike. Even if you are not in the best of shape you will be able to ride your bike 5-10 miles an hour. It is surprisingly easy to bump a 5 mile ride to a 10 mile ride. The bike does all the work. Ride farther each day till you feel comfortable with an 18 mile distance. It should take about a month and a half if you pace it slowly.

    6. I would say that if you choose not to take safety precautions like riding on the right side of the road, wearing a helmet, darting in and out of traffic, etc while each activity alone is not super dangerous putting them all together is a recipe for a broken bone or worse. I would especially caution against riding in the road against traffic, if you have to go against traffic get on the sidewalk. Also you will want to have at least some reflectors on your bike. I have found that without some sort of light you are basically invisable at dusk, dawn and night time. Imagine a car with no running lights at night on the highway, then shrink the car, take off all the armor, and put you inside of it, not something you want to be hit by a truck too close to the curb.

    You will have a great time riding to work, it is a great way to start your day, but please be safe.

  57. James, you certainly have a lot of excuses. I also live in New York City and work in a fancy office where I have to dress up. I sweat a lot too. I ride my bike to work daily, including in ridiculous heat and icy cold (and snow and ice and rain and…). I wear my work clothes on the bike usually, other times I just deal with the funny looks. My experience is that if someone really wants to ride their bike, they will just do it. If they don’t, they will make excuse after excuse to get out of it. To each his own!

  58. Hey Naib,

    Thanks for the info. That is encouraging that a fat guy like me (6’1″, 255 lbs) can eventually maybe do it in an hour. My God, an hour would be wonderful! I would be thrilled if I can do it in 2 hours each way, since in the car it is easily 30-45 minutes with normal traffic.

    What I am saying is not as bad as it sounds, in actuality. I am a very careful and safe rider and do not take any crazy risks while riding. Also I am mostly concerned about changing flats quickly etc. while riding to work, since I am not gonna have the luxury of going to a shop – I am gonna HAVE to get up and running and back on the road immediately. Can anyone recommend any particular bikes, tires, gear, etc. that would suit my situation?

    Thanks again for the info.


  59. As a fellow Boston rider I have seen my fair share of city pavement – and learned that urban riding is a sport unto itself. I’ve commuted for 2 years here, and even worked as a bike messenger for the better part of a summer, and I can tell you one VERY important thing: No matter where you ride, be sure you are very familiar with ALL of the laws that apply to operating your bicycle in traffic. Police generally do not know these laws, and its up to you to protect your right. This is especially important if you get hit. I can tell you from experience that in that situation everyone will attempt to screw you over. Here in Boston, for example, you have no legal requirement to ride on the right side of the right lane. I do not advocate hugging the yellow line, but it is important to realize that you have as much right to be in the center of the lane as anyone in a vehicle. In fact, legally you are a vehicle, with a few exceptions: you may pass a vehicle on the right, you may use either hand to signal a turn, and you may ride on the sidewalk outside of business districts and where otherwise prohibited.

    Bottom line, know your rights, and don’t take any guff from those swine.

  60. Good advice here (found through Lifehacker). I’m glad that you mentioned the helmet: I used to commute by bike in Boston (Brookline to Boston College, via Beacon Street) and even now, years later, living in a small town, I never ride without a helmet.

  61. As a bike commuter who has dropped off a bit unfortunately lately, mostly due to needing a car for frequent errands (how’s that for an excuse), I have these things to say from my experiences:

    The too cold excuse is nonsense– I used to say no below 60 degrees F, then gradually got out there as cold as 45 degrees– without special winter gear. when you get going you warm up, no problem.

    As for showers, one office did not have one– I would go a step further than Naib and do a quick sponge bath in the Men’s room with a washcloth, some soap and an extra towel.

    The bigger the road, the safer, actually. One commute was along Route 30 from Newton to Natick, Mass., and the large shoulder and lack of frequent turns meant fewer cars to dodge. I even biked the heavier Route 9 a few times. More intimidating, but the huge shoulder is a plus and I actually rode faster.

    What I need to do now is push myself to remove the excuses I have been making for my current job, which is a little further away, and, as I said before, I tend to need the car for errands, Feel free to encourage me!

  62. I am lucky enough to cycle along a cycle path seperate from the road and have to hardly any cycling on the road sharing with cars.
    My top tip is always watch out for opening doors and cars pulling out from parking spaces at the side of the road. I cycle to work in Dundee, Scotland, it is an alright ride apart from when its windy and I have to cycle against the wind but I am getting used to it.
    I tried to skip cycling most days because it looked like it was going to start raining (which is most days in Scotland), and now I have decided I am only going to skip cycling when it is actually properly raining.
    Plus, make sure to keep your tyres pumped, cycling with unpumped tyres is so much more work.

  63. Just wanted to follow up on the idea that it’s difficult or dangerous for a car to look out for a cyclist coming up from behind when making a right-hand turn.
    Here in Sweden, the bike lanes have their own traffic lights. If a cyclist is in a bike lane, with a green light, going straight, she has the right of way before a car turning right across her lane. The car driver must yield, and drivers here manage this feat without a problem.
    If there is no bike lane, the cyclist would not attempt to ride up on the right side of a car through an intersection but would try to position themselves in the stream of cars and proceed in order through the intersection.
    I have never ridden a bike in a city in the states and I don’t really know the traffic laws there. I just wanted to point out that there is an easy solution to this situation, and it is certainly possible for a car driver to learn to keep track of traffic in the intersection and in the bike lane at the same time.

  64. Biking to work is great. Your local bike shop should have some good resources for you. Additionally, I found the book, “The Art of Urban Cycling” to be a great resource!

    It’s important to realize that cyclists have rights to the roadway. I wear a lime green vest and take up at least the entire right third of the lane to show motor vehicles that I am a deserving patron of the road.

    I try to avoid conflicts with motorists, so do my best to help them pass me when in tight traffic situations (Art Urban Cycling has more on this) and do my best to avoid traveling during heavy rushes.

    As for carrying gear, I have two panniers on my rack, so no backpack (bonus: less strain on back) and a mesh cargo net to carry anything I acqure through the day. I usally wear a cruddy tee when biking into campus, and change there. I do my best to get to work in a liesurely fasion and save the racing for the ride home!

  65. Doc says: Bottom line, know your rights, and don’t take any guff from those swine.

    People are squishable. Being right does not protect you, not even in a court of law. If you ride your bike as if every driver you encounter is deaf and blind, with the IQ of a guinea pig, you may live to teach your grandchildren how to ride a bike. I certainly hope so.

    The laws of physics trump the laws of the road every time, no exceptions.

  66. I got my start on the daily commute because I gained a lot of weight and felt out of shape. It really helps to have a partner. We ride to work at 4:00 a.m., which allows us to avoid traffic. Of course, that is not why we do it. My partner’s shift starts at 5 a.m. I love it. Riding in the dark was scary at first, but there are virtually no cars on the road. This has really influenced my thinking about a world without cars. We see a ton of wild life, even within the small city. One day we saw turtles burying their eggs on the bank of a channel. We also saw a baby oriole and too many rabbits, squirrels, ducks, and chipmunks. We also see a few drunk people and once, a bicycle thief.

    Anyway, I lost the ten or so pounds and I feel great. I change at work and don’t feel too gross. I can wash off if need be, but it’s never hot here. I used to commute in Austin, and that was a different story. My main concern is how to keep this up through the mighty winter. I think it will keep me sane, but so far I have not ridden in temps lower than 32 F. I definitely cannot ride in the snow. I am thinking about a walking commute. It’s seven miles each way. Any tips on staying with it through the (very cold and snowy) winter?

    The idea about taking all your stuff by car is okay. I used to do that, but now I just take less to work. Still, I have a big milk crate on the back that helps me not to ruin my real back.

  67. I once was a bike commuter (with a foldable bike) until my office building said bringing a bike (even if it folded) into the building was not allowed. They said their insurance policy directly mentions bicycles. The bike is entirely self-contained in a bag yet still this somehow violates their policy. Any one have any thoughts?

    I miss riding to work. It was only about 3.5 miles and a great start to the day. I would lock up my bike, but in NYC I fear it will be gone after a day.

  68. Hello Naib:

    I’m living in saint george utah and i been ridin’ my bike since 2003, a ride at least 8 miles to my job, here’s high desert but the temperatures are kind of high in summer we have around 95 to 110 and in winter 12 to 55 and there’s no problem, the solution is to wear light clothes and in winter wool or fleece garments made to ride bike, here the public transportation is too bad but the solution is go green and just one thing , if you want, you can do it forget about pretexts.

    good luck man

  69. I ride my bike to work 2 or 3 days a week, and I’m trying to push that number up to 4 or 5. It’s about a 10 mile commute both ways and I’ve ridden in all kinds of conditions. I guess I might as well throw my two cents in here with all the rest of you wonderful posters.

    So, one thing that I have found to be indispensable that really surprised me was real biking clothes. I personally wear Pearl Izumi clothing. The reason this is so helpful is that bike clothing is designed to pull sweat away from your body. Not only that, it’s also designed to make your ride more comfortable. Any decent pair of biking shorts will have a chamois insert that cushions your seat which in my opinion makes the whole ride much nicer. The biggest plus, though, is that when you get to work (or wherever your going) and go to change, you’ll find that even on very hot days your not nearly as sweaty and stinky as you thought you might be.

    There have been quite a few posts so far about Driver/Biker safety issues and I certainly agree that it’s no joke. There’s nothing quite like being passed at 40 or 50 mph by an 18 wheeler when it’s 2 or 3 feet away from you. However, some things that I have learned help me feel safe (and I’m lucky enough so far to have had no accidents whatsover with cars). One, I ride defensively. Meaning, I ride like every car on the road is aiming for me. When I was a little younger I used to laugh at people who wore reflector vests and had flags and the like. I now proudly will not ride without my helmet, bright orange flag, and bright orange reflector vest. It’s just stupid to not take those precautions. Even though I am “entitled” to use the road with cars, it won’t bring me any pleasure after death or in a hospital bed that the driver was really at fault. Two, I do my absolute best to adhere to the law. I find that for the most part, if the way I’m riding shows that I respect the drivers (that means even attempting to wait at stop signs with all the other cars), they tend to warm up to you pretty fast. There’s always the occasional jerk who just can’t stand the fact that you’re there, but most drivers will rub you back if you show them that you understand that it’s kind of odd to be riding your bike in this day and age (even though it makes tons more sense!). And Three, I take my time and go pedestrian whenever I feel that it’s safer. For the most part, riding actually feels very safe and is extremely rewarding. You’re very aware of what’s going on around you and you know when cars are coming. However, there are those little sections where you just don’t feel right and the cars love to get a little to close. I don’t play around with those sections, I just get off the bike and walk it. Again, it doesn’t matter that I have the right to be on the road if my right is enforced after I’m injured or killed.

    I guess the last thing I’d like to point out is this. I’m lucky enough where I work that they just installed showers and a gym. However, when I first started there they did not have these amenities. However, this being one of my main deterrents for riding, I decided to try it anyway. Understand that I sweat more than most people. By far. On most days over 80 degrees, if I’m outside, my shirt is soaked. This being said, what I realized is that sweat does not make you stink. In fact, Native American used to bathe by going into a sweat house and allowing the sweat to wash away all of the dirt and grime on them. What I discovered was that, despite my B/O, once I cooled off (Whoever suggested the cool glass of water, that’s the best way to do it!) I actually “felt” very clean. I then put on deodorant and felt clean and smelled nice. Lastly, just to make myself presentable, I’d wash my face and hands and, voila!, good as new. I think part of the problem is that our culture almost puts forth the idea that the only way to be clean is to take a hot shower and then be in air conditioning all day. I take a shower every day, but my point is that while I was riding and there was no shower, I was amazed at how clean I did feel. So, my suggestion to anyone who’s only reservation about riding is that there is no shower to try it for a week and be amazed at how good you actually feel. :)

    This is a great post, I’m certainly going to be posting my own little blog entry about it!


  70. Hi!

    Nice article, I’m going to follow some of those advice

    I’m french, still part-time student, and have always use my bike as much as I could, thanks to my mum who would not drive me to some places when it was close enough to ride.
    For two years in Toulouse (south of France), I went to college, friends places, shopping… riding whatever the weather was.
    I’m now in Paris, and since July we have a wonderful bike rental service, with 20.000 bikes in 1.500 bike stations, for a very cheap price (1-year subscription is 30 € – that’s $40 these days – for as many 30-minutes-or-less trips as you want, which is enough to cross half of the city).
    I don’t have to worry about parking, maintenance…
    I can ride to my clients, and if I finish the work day some place else than work, I don’t have to go back and get MY bike, for there always is a station round the block.
    The only drawback is that the bike is quite heavy, but Paris is mainly a flat city!
    An other good thing is that with such an invasion of bikes in the city, car drivers start looking at us, and it seems less and less of them are trying to kill us.
    (My motto on the street: “they all want to kill me!!”)

    The sweat problem is very real for me, so:
    – backpack, jacket and tie in the bike basket
    – shirt open and out of the pants, so the AC works…
    – walking a bit before entering the office or the client’s, so my body temp can drop a bit while the wind dries me
    – towel and deodorant in the backpack
    – changing clothes: never done, could at work, but at my client’s place, that could be more of a problem!!

    I respect all the rules, because not doing it is dangerous and can earn me a fine (90€ – $120 !!).

    My advice to all those hesitating to ride: it’s fun, healthy, and much less boring than the bus or subway!

  71. I’d really like to try this in my country (Philippines) but the roads I have to pass on my way to the university explicitly prohibits bikes. To start doing this the local government has to make bike lanes on the roads. This was brought up before but it looks like it has been forgotten. :(
    I’m not particularly worried about getting sweaty since I’m used to bring a change of clothes always and I have access to showers. I’d really save a lot of money if I biked to school but for now it’s quite impossible. Oh and what do you suggest to wear while biking if ever I do get to do this?

  72. I’m from Sweden. I just wanted to let you guys know that you can commute in winter. I’ve done so for years with temps of -20/-15 C (-4/5 F), with snow storms, and with ice. With the right clothing, the cold is not a problem – except for feet, hands and face. You have to be careful with other things though. You have to learn to “float” above thick snow. You have to learn to keep your balance and direction when there’s ice on the pavement. Be prepared to find “black-ice” anywhere. Get spiked tyres. If you have v-brakes, the rim can get iced, and then your breaking power is zero. Plan your breaking well in advance. Test your breaking power every 2-3 minutes. If the rim starts freezing, pedal with your breaks pulled (look at it positively: you get more excercise!). If you’r on an iced pavement, then don’t ever break! On ice, don’t steer with the handle bar, but move your weight on the bike instead. Gyroscopic effects will get you where you want. If you have SPD pedals, the mechanism can freeze completely and your feet will be permanently stuck to the pedals. So get into the habit of unclicking/clicking every 2-3 minutes of pedaling. The best thing when biking in these conditions is that the cars have to go even slower! Give it a try!

  73. Commuting by bicycle is pretty popular here in Japan. It’s not uncommon to see a salaryman in full suit and tie riding a pink bike to the office.

  74. tip for reducing sweating when riding in hot weather:

    Wear a wet shirt – the evaporating water will keep you cool. If you have trouble with chafing then do not wet the chest area of the shirt.

  75. I’ve been riding my bike to work for the last 6 months and couldn’t be happier. I’m a poor graduate student; so the extra pocket change is a nice incentive. I fuel my car up on average once a month. It saves me gas money, having to buy a parking permit, time, and if I do say so myself I now have a nice firm body. I also save money on a gym membership, and I have an extra hour that I can spend doing something else becausee I’m not at the gym. I bring a change of clothes to work just because I’m a more efficient cyclist without normal day clothes acting as a parachute to slow me down. Synthetic materials are great for cycling they whisk away moisture and keep you cool. On the other hand cotton will absorb moisture and doesn’t breath as well. Once I get to work I mop myself with a few paper towels and throw on my day clothes and am good to go! When I first started bike commuting I was “out of it” for a good 30 minutes after getting to work, but after a few weeks my recovery time was minutes. I’m definitely more awake in the mornings too! Remember the skinnier and more pressure your tires have the easier and faster it is to ride. I use a road bike but would like to get something like a touring bike so I can throw panniers on the back.

  76. edward: why not just lock your bike up outside the building. If you use the proper locking method (long chain through the front and back tire, with a strong lock holding it all to something immovable) you should be ok.

  77. I’ve been riding my bike to work for a couple of years.
    My work has showers and a bike rack. Even better they have a drycleaning service, so I can get my suits and shirts cleaned without having to bring them to and from home. My local council has started work on a dedicated cycle path from my home to work. I consider myself very lucky!

    A couple of tips to share with would-be commuters. Get a bike that won’t be a target for theft, but is mechanically reliable. Second hand bikes can be good here.
    Start off commuting by giving yourself ample time. Much less stress! After 10 rides or so you will notice it gets a bit easier. Keep that in mind.
    After a year you will be amazaed at how much fitter you have become.

    If you have a gym close to work, that can be a good solution to the showering issue.

    I live in Australia, and the heat in summer makes Orlando look cool. As long as you take enough water, and have some fitness, it’s not so hard to ride in heat. My tips: take it easy, freeze your drink bottle, and drink up before leaving.

    When you leave in the morning, it can be tough going if you haven’t eaten anything. My technique – I eat lightly as soon as possible after getting up. Then I get ready and depart. By the time I am warmed up I’m starting to get the energy boost from the food.

    Good luck out there.

  78. Can anyone point me to a good site that can help me understand some more technical aspects a little better — things like bike parts, gearing technologies, comparisons of braking systems and other important aspects of bikes? What are some going rates for some of these costs in USD? Does anyone commute on a fixed up old single-speed bike? Is that even possible with a reasonable commute (say greater than 10 mi)? What are some areas to cut corners in and what are some areas not to?

    My rationale is that I want to get thoroughly knowledgeable of these aspects, prior to becoming dependent on my bike for daily use. How heavy should my frame be? If I am 6′ 1″, what size frame do I need? What tires are recommended? This sort of information would help me get my act together tremendously. I would even be willing to get a heavier frame for example if I knew that I had some great gears and other components that would offset that. I don’t want to spend too much on this!

    Sietch I hope you don’t mind I added you as a trackback to my blog as well. This thread is very valuable to me at this point.

    Orlando FL USA

  79. I live in Queens, NYC. I ride my bike to work while the weather is nice. This is how I do it:

    I live pretty close to work so I just wear my “business casual” attire while riding.

    Even if I sweat a little bit, I would be just as sweaty as my subway riding coworkers.

    I don’t ride that hard, I pick a consistent speed. This gets my heart rate up and then just maintain momentum. This helps to be less sweaty.

    The first time I rode my bike and locked it to a decorative railing I got a notice that my bike lock would be cut and my bike removed. I wasn’t allowed to lock it there. So with the notice I went to the building office and asked where I can park. They gave me free parking in garage. There was even a bike rack there that nobody used. I was probably the first.

  80. Some additional strategies:

    Trip safety
    – Wear a vest like a construction worker for visibility
    – You can get side flags which get motorists to give you more room
    – Bike paths are more dangerous than roads if there is much traffic like other bikes, dogs on leashes, kids, … Have a bike bell and use it to warn before you overtake.
    – On roads, take the lane (go down the middle) if it is narrow.
    – Move to the left lane to make left turns and stay in the middle of the lane until after the turn
    – Helmets are not only head protection, they are ideal spots to stick fluorescent/reflective stickies for visibility

    Arriving hot
    – bring a washcloth to wet with COLD water and wipe ALL over you – undress fully. It cleans off the sweat and cools you too
    – use a handicapped washroom for greater privacy/room – search the building for a convenient, quiet, and private one.
    – bring a rayon camp towel to dry with – it really soaks up the water
    – store clothing at work, e.g., shirts, suits, socks, underwear – you can renew weekly
    – going to a nearby gym is a good idea. You’re already warmed up and done the cardio, so you can concentrate on strength exercises.
    – Bring water bottle(s) with ice on your trip. Drink about a litre every 20 miles.

    Bike security
    – bring into your office if you can. If you’re in the market for a bike, you can buy a folding bike to make this more convenient. Dahon folding bikes are reasonable in price and design.
    – 2nd best is right in front of a parking lot attendant
    Р3rd best is right in front of a restaurant/caf̩
    – Lock both wheels and the frame to something solid.
    – If an insurance policy forbids “bicycles” in the building, get a letter from the insurance company excepting folded ones.
    – You can use a heavy chain and lock – just leave them locked where you ordinarily lock up.

    – below freezing just keep face, extremities well protected. Use a ski helmet. You can get studded tires for ice. Thin tires cut through the snow – see
    – at freezing it is both messy and slippery. Avoid.
    – Above freezing use clothing you can open when you get hot from cycling

    Some buses have bike racks on the front. You can then ride to the bus or from it.

    Learning to ride – borrow any clunker and practice on grass so you fall easy. Get someone to help push you, or practice on a slight slope to keep you going. You will find that the faster you go, the easier your balance is.

    Distances – you can do any distance with enough time. Practice just makes you faster. Expect to go about 12 mph to start, and work up to close to 20.

    Flats – fix kits are cheap and take about 10 minutes. You can shave about 3 minutes off this by bringing a spare tube and fixing the hole at home later. Bring plastic gloves or a microfibre cloth to clean any dirt off your hands. You can also get kevlar belts to fit between your tire and tube. Personally, I haven’t had a flat in a year.

  81. People in many 3rd world cities have many years more experience than we do using bicycles as primary transport. An important difference is the attitude we tend to adopt when we ride. In the US, cyclists have historically been either children or athletes. When an adult biker hops on to ride to work, or the store, for the first time in years, they may carry that attitude with them and it can be a disadvantage.

    Children tend to wander in and out of parked cars and not follow the general rules of the road. Don’t ride like a child. Stay right, and travel a straight and predictable course, maintaining a position that keeps you visible to motorists.

    Athletes bike HARD. A commuter does not need to ride like an athlete. Riding to work, and home after a hard day, is more enjoyable and repeatable if you slow down and enjoy the trip. You will still get almost exactly the same overall exercise and often not break a sweat. A 5 mile commute may take only 5 or 10 minutes more at an easy pace.

    3rd world bike commuters typically ride pretty clunky bikes compared to us. They ride in a sitting up position, with ordinary clothes. Bike apparel is rare. They also ride SLOW, often not much faster than a jog speed. I have seen women in China wearing a dress, high heels shoes, riding in the rain with one hand holding an umbrella, all without difficulty, but at a nice slow speed.

    I think one of the worst mistakes we make here is to commute like racers on the velodrome track. It is not fun if you are not an athlete. It looks silly to wear fancy Italian gear for the ride to work. And, it is not inviting to non-cyclists in their cars who might otherwise be tempted to ride a bike, too.

  82. Way to go! I bought a scooter about 1 month ago. I actually work out of home, so there’s no need to waste $ and gas. My wife and I sold our 2nd car, put $ into our savings. And now I literally spend $1.50 every 2 weeks and get around 65 miles to the tank. You can’t beat that!! Believe me…you DON’T look silly, you AREN’T stupid for not having a truck that takes up 2 lanes and it’s totally practical and positively effects so many things.

    The bottom line is being happy with what you have and learning how to only get what you need. Getting a scooter for $1k and doing my part to save us money and cut down on polution/gas usage was a great decision. Not to mention they’re SO FUN! And if you get a scooter with an engine under 149cc, you don’t even have to have a motorcycle permit or license to operate on public roads!!! Think about it!!!

  83. Schmoe: For answers to your questions about bike gear I’d recommend heading to your local bike shop (LBS) to let them help you out. I’ve found folks at bike shops to be really, really nice, they will generally be glad to help get you up to speed on anything bike-related, and you’ll be supporting a local business to boot. And even though they’re selling things, I’ve found that at heart folks working at an LBS are really just bike addicts, eager to spread the word. :) Try out a couple shops until you find one that clicks for you. Good luck !,+FL

  84. Question – I live just about 2 miles from work and want to commute on bike. It would be difficult for me to change clothes after I get to work. Since my road bike has an open chain, I am afraid of getting grease on my pants or getting the leg caught in the chain. Any suggestions on riding with long pants?

  85. Terry: the simplest way would be to role one pant leg up till its about mid calf. The second would be to tuck your pants into your sock, the third would be to buy one of them little bands at the bike shop to hold your pants down, the fourth would be to buy yourself a pair of shin guards and wear them. I have chewed up pants in chains before so I can attest to the fact that it can happen, but it is super easy to just tie your pants to your leg.

    As fas as grease goes, the grease wont fly off, so just be careful not to lay your leg against your bike.

    Honestly at two miles you going to get to work in about 15 minutes, you could almost walk the distance as fast.

  86. Thanks Naib – those bands sound interesting. I have not seen them before – so I will have to take a look.

    Two miles in 15 minutes? That is only 8 mph. I’m going 15 to 17 miles per hour – it will only take me a few minutes at that rate. Whats the fun in walking when you can ride ;)

  87. Terry,

    I wear longer socks, calf height, fold my trousers over my leg (to keep the crease) while sitting (to give pedalling room), and roll up the sock over it. You can also lubricate your chain with wax rather than oil – check your LBS (local bike store). Clean the oil off with gasoline or mineral thinner.

    Socks also protect from most spatter in the rain, even with fenders. Your socks get dirty, but the outside of your pants stay clean. And unlike ankle straps, you always have them with you!

    They used to make rings which fitted on the big gear and kept the gear and chain from touching your pants, but did nothing after the chain started on its path to the small sprocket.

    For colder weather, you can get gaiters which cover your leg from toe to knee which velcro on. Warms as well as protecting from slush splatter. Back-opening ones are the cleanest to put on. They also have big reflective strips.


  88. Lief,
    Thanks for the info. I have known some LBS people, really clean cut types and a lot of them are in Utah. Oh wait, that’s LDS, never mind…

    Seriously, all this info is great. I am also wondering if there is a good way to combat the rain. Do any of you people ever just throw on a rain jacket and bike anyway? Here in Orlando FL it rains a lot of days of the year, and it is very often in the time frame of about 3-5 pm, right in the middle of when I would leave around 4. I don’t think indiscriminately waiting around at work for the rain to quit is a good strategy, since as we know it could disappoint me and keep me there much longer, only to ride home in the dark. Any tips or recommended gear or equipment would be greatly appreciated.

  89. Hi Schmoe:

    Riding in the rain is a little tricky. I once started a ride in Austin in a light sprinkle only to be up to my chain in water by the time I got home. (that s just how they roll down their)

    Some ways to ride in the rain.

    Take your “nice” cloths and put them in a plastic bag, and just get wet on the way home. Add rain gear if you want to try and stay dry. (in my experience if it is really coming down outside no amount of rain gear is going to keep you dry on a bike, too much splash up)

    Some bike tips, be sure to dry off your bike when you get home, I might even suggest you dab a little oil on an old cloth and run it over your chain. Try and blow most of the water out of your back sprocket and generally try and dry the bike. If you do a lot of rain riding be sure to take your bike to the local bike store once in a while for a re-lubing. You don’t want water to work its way into the innards and rust things.

    Be extra careful in the rain, braking might not work as well, and even if you can brake you might skid. Give yourself extra time to stop. Be sure to take corners slower as well as you don’t want to skid out.

    Riding in the rain can be very fun, you don’t get very hot, and it can feel pretty crazy at times. I am sure others here can give you more tips, but my advice is give it a try a couple of times, if you live in Florida it shouldn’t even be that cold :)

  90. I second The Naib’s tips for riding in the rain (I did it in heavy downpours a few times in Washington, DC) and add these points, learned from experience:

    1. Don’t bother with plastic rain gear. You will get just as wet from sweat as you will from the rain.

    2. Take a shower as soon as you can, especially if you’re walking into an air-conditioned apartment/house/office. I got a nasty chill once after standing around in the A/C to take a phone call while dripping wet and ended up with a raging fever. I don’t know for sure whether I caught a virus from riding through random mud puddles or from the chill, but a shower would have taken care of both.

    3. Wear clear safety glasses. I keep one pair of tinted glasses and one pair of clear ones in my panniers. They provide great coverage, protect your eyes from insects, and will keep you from having to wipe your eyes constantly when riding in the rain. The fever-inducing downpour was crazy enough to defeat even the glasses, but as bad as it was, it was worse without them. My brother-in-law got my glasses for me at Grainger (he bought them by the case) about 15 years ago now. (Good lord, I guess it’s sort of amazing they’re still functional!)

  91. 1. From my experience, any car that is turning right has either just passed said cyclist, or is coming up behind said cyclist. Either way, they should already be aware of the cyclist, and should be able to avoid an accident. As long as the car has it’s right turn signal on, any sane cyclist will not pass it on the right.
    2. Riding on the left side of the road is bad because cars traveling the same direction that are turning left are certainly not looking for a bike to their left. (Just thought I’d mention, because everyone else said “don’t do it cause the law says so” which is hardly a good reason)
    3. Wear your helmet, but don’t use it.
    4. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad rain gear.

  92. Used to bike to work every day for years (Kansas and Phoenix) and I miss it.

    I have to concur that the only times I’ve had trouble with right turning vehicles is right after they’ve passed me. It’s not a matter of having to look over their shoulder, but being oblivious to their surroundings.

    You are absolutely less safe riding against traffic. The problem is not the right turning vehicles at that point but you are coming up behind left turning vehicles that will be accelerating across multiple lanes of traffic and could easily hit you at lethal speeds. With right turning vehicles the bike almost always t-bones the car at much lower speeds..

    I do live too far away to commute. It’s 150 miles round trip. I already leave the house at 4:00AM and don’t get home until 6:00PM and ride a vanpool so we can take the carpool lanes.

  93. Another tip for those that are starting out..or have a particularly dangerous stretch of road early in their commute.

    I had been looking to start riding to work, but I had worried that a major construction zone would be super dangerous to ride through..and I don’t have any other way to go (Tampa, FL near the Airport/Memorial Hwy/SR-60/I-275 Mess).

    There are lots of big box type stores on my way into work, so I’ve found that I can drive the dangerous portion with my bike loaded on the rack, then park in one of these parking lots, grab the bike and go.

    This can also be used to help build up to a full to/from commute, if you don’t feel you are in good enough shape to make the whole commute at once. You can build up by parking further and further away from where you work.

    I know this won’t work for some of the more Urban/Dense areas, but hopefully it works for at least 1 other person who feels like they can’t do it.

  94. I think the most important thing about riding in a city is confidence. Make eye-contact with the drivers around you, when you can. This is especially crucial when at an intersection, where another vehicle wants to make a left and cut across the intersection. Give them a smile and a nod. Make them aware of what you intend to do. Being shaky and inconsistant is only going to anger drivers.

    I think my biggest problem with riding has been that people aren’t aware what certain hand signals mean. I’ve found it a lot easier to simply point in the direction that I intend to move when I need to do so.

    I also have never had a problem locking up anywhere. Never met a city that didn’t have a sturdy sign post near by that you could lock up too. Lots of garages seem to have racks or locked bike rooms/cages that you can use as well.

  95. I rode to work yesterday for the first time. I live 25 miles from work,I work in the city of New Orleans and run a highrise. I came in the service entrance, took the service elevator to my office and showered. It is amaving how many people think I am crazy.1.5 hours to drivve in traffic is easly and hour on a good day.

  96. You take your work clothes in a backpack? If I tried that, I’d get a couple of warnings, then an invitation to ride my bike anywhere I wanted, except to the place I wasn’t working anymore.

    I like my bike, but my reasons for not taking it to work are anything but “excuses”.

    1. Sweat. I do it a lot, even when I’m not working very hard (and I’m in good shape, too).

    2. Time. Work takes up enough of it. Coming and going is part of the process, and I want it DONE so I can get on with the rest of my life.

    3. I play baseball and/or hockey 2 – 4 times a week. I don’t really need more exercise.

    4. On occasions when I take transit, I can get stuff done on the bus.

    5. My boss wouldn’t regard a meeting some idiot’s car door an acceptable excuse for missing work.

    6. Helmet Head.

  97. I startrd commuting to work by bike in the early 60’s because I’d just got my first bike and loved to ride, still do.
    People who want a shower installed or some other luxury will never commute by bike.
    We bike commuters are very organized, never take dirty socks or anything else home before you bring replacements. Have a laundry -day to transport clean cloths etc.
    To far to ride. Drive or take the bus part way. Leave a sweat suite and a drink in your car to change and refresh on your return.
    Leave home early. Have breakfast on arrival at work. Feel superior to work mates. Save money. Just-do-it.

  98. Hi. I ride almost every day to work in Mexico City, one of the most congested cities in the world. I ride flat for some 2.5 miles, then uphill for some 5 miles from 7450 ft. to 8322 ft ASL.

    I ride a mountain bike, which must weight a little less than 20 pounds: it’s a commuting bike, so it has no fancy gadgets, and I’ve never felt like I would need shocks/springs or any high-tech breaking systems. I think biking is about keeping things simple, and as we say here: it’s mostly the indian that counts, not the arrow.

    The ride up is kind of tedious, but riding back home is a fascinating experience. With gravity on my favour, I go as fast, or even faster than the trafic (some 30mph), and of course I get to go in between the cars and pass everyone when cars stop at the red light.

    Going up in the morning sets me up for the day: I listen to the news while riding, to keep my mind busy and forget about the slow pace (which at is anyways faster than all the cars where the traffic totally jams). At the same time, I burn a lot of calories, so I don’t have to worry about working out to keep myself fit, but there’s one warning: cycling will never make you get rid of that belly, if you eat too much… either do some abs, or reduce your calory income! It is good for the legs, though.

    I could ride down back home at an easy pace, but I like the speed and the adrenaline rush: this is a personal taste and is totally unnecesary; I trust my riding experience and still ride defensively, as most have stated here. People in traffic have been amazingly polite. I have been commuting to work for 10 years now; sometimes it has been very close to home, and sometimes further, like now. With this job, I’ve been riding for some 2 months, and I have only ran across one asshole in the road in this period. The rest of the time, everybody has been either neutral, or quite considerate, which has sorprised me: I think bike awareness amoung motorists has rose quite considerably in the last few years.

    I’ve read this whole thread, and nobody has mentioned anything about wearing a pollution mask. In my case, this is a must. I use 3M 8514 disposable masks, with an activated carbon filter and an “exhaust” valve to keep things cooler inside the mask. Disposable respirators, as they also call them, are compact and don’t look too weird. It also keeps you safe from bad odors from some streets, and lets you ride by the trucks and buses with confidence, even if they are pumping out lots of smoke.

    I would recommend people using Google Earth to find their optimal commuting route, specially if you are going to ride up or down-hill.


  99. We seem to have a lot of professionals in the sport here.

    I haven’t even started yet but I want to join in. Eventually to go racing and join my local club. The problem lies I own a very expensive bike (which I was given hence my desire). I am not sure if the bike gets effected if I leave it outside, as that is where it will have to be kept. Also I don’t own any clothing for cycling specfically, what should I buy?, Considering the fact I want a wide range of activities eventually.

    Further I have one more problem in that I am over weight, which is another want to do something about things. Could I damage the bike at 18 stone and should I lose weight before I start cycling to work.

    My work also do not provide me with a shower and I do not wish to smell all day, as I am dealing with all sorts of people in my role as Auditor.

    Please advise

  100. Edd: First off, thats great! We all can’t wait to see you on the roads! I will try and advice you in the order you asked the questions.

    1. Start small, why not tool around the neighborhood for a while then worry about racing. They say you never forget how to ride a bike, but you can forget the finer points, so do some low impact short rides to get all the skills back.

    2. Leaving a bike out in the rain and snow will eventually kill it. If you can keep it dry it will go a long way towards keeping it nice. This doesn’t mean you have to keep it inside, just under somthing that will keep the rain and snow off it. I leave my bike outside during the day (while I am working) and if it gets wet I am sure to wipe it down with a towel and re-oil the chain when I get home. When I get home I keep it in my mud room.

    3. I ride in a pair of jeans and t-shirt in the winter, cut off jeans and a t-shirt in the summer, and sometimes will bust out the spandex pants when it is raining. You don’t need special cloths for riding. If you find that you are chafing, or having an uncomfortable ride because of some piece of clothing head over to your local bike shop and chat them up, they are going to tell you all sorts of stuff you can buy :)

    4. as far as being heavy, this is only a problem if you have a small framed bike. You can look up the weight limit for most frames on the manufacturers website. If you can’t find it there head over to the local bike shop and ask them. I wouldn’t worry too much, bikes are built very strong. However you might not want to go leaping off any jumps or slamming into any huge chuck holes till you find out the weight limit on your bike. You are going to lose some weight if you start riding on a regular basis, so this problem will go away.

    5. My office also doesn’t have a shower. I bring my work cloths with me in my backpack. You can use wet naps (the little cloths with cleaner on them for babies) to give yourself a quick wipe down when you get to the office, and then change and put on some deodorant. I have not had any trouble. Exercise cleans you out and keeps you healthy, after a lot riding you are going to smell better, trust me :)

    Good luck!

  101. Dear Edd
    Welcome aboard. You’re very fortunate being given a nice bike. A nice bike is one that get’s riden as oposed to one that’s hanging on the garage wall. It doesn’t matter much how much it cost but it does matter that it fits you and is suitable for the type of riding you intend doing. If not sell it and buy one that suits you. Cover it up and lock it if you have to store it outside.

    The main thing is start riding and get in shape. Enjoy yourself, ride around your nieghborhood to start then venture a little further. Don’t worry about going fast. Commuting is a great way to start and there’s already plenty of advise on that in this Blog.

    If you start riding now you’ll be in good shape for the summer. One thing about starting an exercise program is the you’ll change other things in your life i.e. change eating habits.

    Next summer try to find people of the same ability as yours to ride with. Don’t be intimidated by prople who are fitter than you it’s only because they’ve been riding longer. The more you ride the better you’ll get.

    Good luck

  102. Thanks guys for the very speedy advice. I look forward to riding on the roads (once my exams are complete)

    Thanks again

  103. Unfortunately, I need to echo the safety concerns some other Houston posters brought up. I recently had my drivers license suspended and had no choice but to bike around for errands and such (work is 24 miles away and you couldn’t pay me to take those roads on a bicycle).

    Instead, our department went to a Monday and Tuesday in the office, and I get a ride from a co-worker who commutes from Dallas and stay in a hotel for that night. The rest of the week is spent working from home.

    I love the effect that the biking has had on my body, however, I feel like I am rolling the dice every time I pull out of my apartment complex onto the 45mph road that has no sidewalks. In the 4 or so months that I have been biking, I have been almost hit 5 or 6 times on this road, once almost intentionally by a carload of partying kids.

    Many times, I’ve been honked at for slowing someone down and making them wait for an opening in the left-hand lane to pass me. The attitude by many in this area (Copperfield) is that bikes have no business on the roadway and they’re in the way.

    After dark, I walk along the edge of fences off the road instead of even daring to bike, even if I had powered lights.

    The previous posters are very correct in noting how much of a joke the bike lanes are that were squeezed in. I believe that they were put in to secure some sort of funding, and were never realistically designed for any actual use. Nowdays, many of these lanes in the Galleria area have been worn down by cars ignoring them and haven’t been repainted.

    Now, with all that doom and gloom, I love the concept of biking or walking when practical, and plan on moving either to the inner-loop to an area of town where it is safer, or simply moving to another city (Austin, Denver, Portland, or Seattle). I hate how Houston has so few alternatives to driving significant distances, especially when it comes to dropping by the pub after work and am simply not going to live in an area where that’s the normal lifestyle.

  104. Dear Yarr
    Austin to hot. Denver to hot and to cold. Go to Portland, it’s beautiful cosmopolitan city that’s very bicyclist friendly. Lots of jobs, nice restaurants, near the ocean and no sales tax.

    There is a huge cycling community and everyone rides year round. Can you spell fenders.

    I must say though that your fear of traffic may be the cause the encounters you’re having with traffic. When riding on the road behave like traffic, be predictable, don’t be timid.

    An example of this is when making a left turn. A couple of hundred yards before the turn look over your shoulder to see what other traffic is present. This will also warn other road users that you are going to make a manouver. Give a left hand signal and move out to the middle of the road.

    Don’t stop at the right curb and then use the pedestrian crossing. People who do that are called pedestrians, not cyclists.

    Have fun in the Pearl District of Portland.

  105. While I bike in a pretty bike friendly city, Ottawa Canada, I think the ticket to surviving in a car society is not to shrink back into the shadows or slink along the curb, enhancing motorists egos, but to take back the night with bright flashing lights ablaze, and the day with a day-glo vest or jacket.

    But give the motorist breaks – keep to the right if the lane’s big enough. Give them space to turn.

    There’s room for both of us until the oil runs out.


  106. Great article there – glad to see someone getting rid of the horrible excuses people use to not cycle. It’s easy speaking from the perspective of someone that loves to cycle but harder for people that have not yet got into it. For me in London there is no other alternative what with constant delays on the tube and having to pay so much to travel. Instead of the 45 minutes it would take me to commute with public transport I spend just 15 minutes on my bike. Really can’t beat that!

  107. I’m actually excited about this article. I read it a few months back and am glad to report that my biking to work experience will start tomorrow.

    I even learned that my small town has a bike lane! Granted, it’s about 1/8 of a mile long and no where near where I’ll be, but it’s still exciting and makes me wonder if it wouldn’t be looked into more deeply by the city!

  108. Its so good to see someone who agrees that bikes shud be taken to office too and not just around your block. it is indeed frustrating when people who are grown up adults with degrees from the finest colleges ask you WHY a bike? and snort….they wud like u to have a flashy car (just because you earn enough to have one) and put up stickers of ur alumni association and for them that is a status symbol. If you ask me, there is no greater status symbol than the one you stand for: letting these ignorant people breathe easier everyday. keep up the good work. i wish i could have a more sophisticated way of telling them off though…for that this wud have to become a revolution

  109. It really is amazing how much a bike can improve one’s health and quality of life. I used to have to stop and catch my breath halfway between my residence and my workplace. Now I’m not even out of breath or sweaty when I get there (and I get there in half the time it takes me to drive). Riding my bike even helped me quit smoking. Whenever I needed to smoke, I just rode my bike a couple miles instead. I’m sure your employer wouldn’t mind you using your smoke break for that. Whenever I get angry or upset or stressed… I ride my bike a few miles. Needless to say, after a few months of riding I quit smoking, lost weight, feel better, sleep better, am less stressed, and I’ve made many new friends. My recommendation: if your life needs a change, try pedals before pills.

  110. Well, tomorrow finally arrived today. I’ve been having some issues motivating myself and choosing a good route to take to work, but I took one this morning. I’ve decided on going another route from now on that seems a little less traffic-y and possibly more bike friendly (I had issues even walking my bike part of the way this morning). My thighs are dead and my ears are about frozen off, but I’m so happy that I finally did it.

    I will say, though, that this has solidified how terribly out-of-shape I am! LOL. Hopefully that will be fixed soon enough.

  111. Thats awesome Kim! Be sure to wear a hat to keep them ears warm, and yea try and find a route you feel good with.

    For the sore muscles be sure to eat a couple bananas (or anything with lots of potassium in it) and drink lots of water, and stretch. You are using muscle groups that you don’t normally work out, so it is important to keep them stretched out and hydrated. The potassium will help to flush the lactic acid out of your muscles (thats what makes them feel like they are burning)

    Good luck and happy cycling!

  112. If you have a safe place to put your work clothes, you could drive 1 day a week to do a clothing exchange. I leave my week’s worth of clothes in a locked file cabinet pressed and neatly folded. I drive to work on mondays (my rest day) and i bring a fresh week’s worth of clothes. you can do this to avoid looking shabby in wrinkled clothes and also feel “free” riding rather than with a backpack full of all kinds of stuff.

  113. When I am riding to my workplace try to ride not to fast. So when arrive to work, feel myself quite fresh. That is the answer. Good luck!

  114. We ride 2 Dahon Fouldup Boardwalk 7 speed Bicycles We are in are 60s, We ride around 3 times a week 4 miles oneway to town to Wal-Mart To Post office Grocegies store,We have fouldup Baskets on the back, We love are Dahon Bicycles The Dahon Bicycles was well worth the money You can put it on the Bus Are a Train, NO OIL NO GAS Why do you need a Car A Bicycles is a car Be Nice More Citys put in Bicycles Lanes Have Fun RidingNO CAR

  115. “I like to fantasize that each and every one of the people I pass stuck in traffic secretly yearns to be with me swiftly riding past them on my way to and from work.”

    I realize it’s a bit late to comment on this, but I couldn’t help it – I identify with this quote WAY too much! I loved my ride home for the simple reason that I would pass sometimes 50+ cars on days when the traffic was really bad. Plus, one day a truck pulled out of an office building not far from mine; I ended up passing it and didn’t get passed by the truck until I was just about to pull into my driveway. Not bad for a 5 mile ride!

    Also, just wanted to let people know if they didn’t already, Google Maps has ‘recently’ (I’m not sure how long this has been around, but I only noticed it a month or two ago) added an ‘avoid highways’ option. It’s not available until after you have selected your start/end points, and it doesn’t always work, but it can be a handy way to find ways to bike.

    Thanks for the article!!

  116. I regularly ride up to 92km / 55mile round trips to work and back, especially in summer here in Cape Town when its training time for the Argus Cycle Tour – one of the world’s biggest timed sporting events.

    Depending on which route I take – long and hilly over chapmans peak (one of the world’s most beautiful clifftop coastal roads), or shorter and rolling down the normal commuter route – this takes between 2 and 3 hours there and back.

    It allows me to do three things at once – commute, keep fit and training for the sport I love – all at once.

    So in short, no distance is too far, everything is relative to the time you’re wasting sitting like a vegetable in traffic.

    ps. yes I do have a shower at work. At my previous job I managed to get management to install one – so anything’s possible in that department too.

  117. If you need a place to lock your bike have your company request a bike rack. Most major cities such as Chicago have some sort of bike federation. Check online for your city. But with a simple online request from your company you could get a freee rack installed outside of your business with in a few weeks

  118. Just a tip for the ladies: Bring an extra pair of unmentionables with you! Also, I dry my exercise bra in a half-open drawer so no one has to see a bra hanging in my cube. Ew!

  119. well, you have all inspired to take the plunge. i bought a bike yesterday and rode to work today. 5 miles and im blessed with a bike path nearly the entire way. it takes me 12 minutes on average to drive here, and i got here in 23 minutes today on my bike. I cant ride to work everyday because i travel a lot, but i vow to do so as often as my schedule allows.

    for those of you who have stated that you cant afford a bike…do the math. whether you drive or use public transport i bet most people spend at least 3-5$ to get to/from the office. at $5 a day thats more than $100/month. a bike pays for itself rather quickly. Get a cheap one like i did. Once you buy a bike too its yours and you dont have to make payments or buy insurance. you can then use it to do other things with and save even more on gas. i rode yesterday to the coffee shop…might have cost $0.50 in gas by car, but 0$ on my bike.

    I was as sweaty as one could be when i got here as i live in southern california but i got over it. no shower here, but i dont think ill need one. i will however be ditching the backpack for a messenger bag – i think this will help tremendously.

    the bottom line is this:

    whether or not global warming is occuring, im sure that more money in my pocket, less time spent in traffic, and less pollution is good for everyone – and we should all be at least making a small effort. if we did i think everyone would be happier in the long run. and imagine how attractive everyone would be if we were all in great shape!

    just see #129 post from Moser – he tells it the way it is…

  120. I have decided to start riding my bike to work. I live 5.6 miles away from work. I am 27 years old and I own a 06 f-150. I have my truck payment and I have my gas which really kills me.
    I don’t have showers hear at work but at least right now it is cool enough in the morning that it won’t be an issue and when the time comes for it to be an issue I’ll be in better shape and hopefully sweat less. Although good deodorant helps here.
    Extra set of clothes and shoes will be kept here at my office for emergencies and I’ll just change when I get to work which is usually before anyone gets here.
    No bike paths on the road to work but that is just a stretch of road that extends maybe less than 1/2 a mile. The traffic is pretty intense but I should be ok.

  121. While showers & lockers are nice, when I was cycling 10 miles each way, I would go into the handicapped washroom, give myself a sponge bath with a cool washcloth, and change into my work duds..

  122. I’m 210lbs. I sweat like a freak of nature. So I feel folks pain on this. My solutions are pretty straight up too. Cool down before heading inside. Cold shower for about 6 minutes (I keep a full shave kit at work). Lay off the coffee early in the morning. Drink cold stuff. And dress to be just warm enough to survive the ride. I live in a generally cold climate.

    On a different subject, I’m wondering if there are any people out there like me. I don’t buy into this “global warming… do my part…so I ride a bike to work thing…” I just ride my bike because it keeps me in shape and where I live it is possible. On the weekends I kill animals for sport and I eat meat, while smoking a cigar and off-roading in my truck. Are their people like me who ride their bike? If so I’ll buy you a beer.

    I do give it up to the environmentalists out their who are riding. At least you folks put your money where your mouth is. A lot of hypocrites out there. “Everybody should ride their bike twice a week.” Do you ride your bike? “Well, no I live to far away.” I’m doing 20 round trip on a bike I bought from Walmart. Still haven’t seen Obama and Hillary out there though.

  123. Hey Oneeder,

    I am like that – I am not fully into the whole global environmental hysteria, although it is of course fully congruent with B2W and of course is a great thing for a variety of reasons. Whether one chooses to acknowledge them or interpret them in a certain way is one’s own personal choosing.

    If ANY of the 3 major politicians got on a bike, I would just laugh, since I know that it is just to make themselves look good and to appease the enviro-hysteria groups.

    I ride for myself, and not for the validation and appeasement of other people’s values, standards, ideals, etc. Strangely, some people will resent you (the biker) based on their own failures. I.e., scenarios such as they drive a big SUV and have a long commute, and refuse to bike, but rather than celebrating your success with you, they resent you. That is the mark of a small-minded person. As for biking to work, I would love to do it now but I have changed jobs and my current job will not allow it since I have to work directly off of a major highway, and have found no way to us a bike with the current mix of weather, location, commute, and dress restrictions.

    By the way, I don’t equate transportation to lifestyle, necessarily, so I don’t see that one can’t hunt, fish, vote libertarian, you name it. And if you come to Orlando, FL, I’ll take that beer and cigar anytime. :)


  124. Thought I would give a little update how I am doing

    I have started to ride often now and plan to do a 50m ride for charity in Norwich in a few weeks time. After this I have a 128m bike ride, which I am going to take casually as I can, as this pushing my limit to the very max. I have invested in a few items of clothing and helmets etc

    Just to say thanks for all of you guys advice

  125. i’m excited. currently live in massachusetts but work about 20 miles away in connecticut. i plan to start biking as soon as i get a good bike-coworker told me i should go get measured for one ?

  126. Jessdoe’
    Congratulations on your decision to start riding. Don’t spend to long looking for a bike, the main thing is it fits you.

    Also, 40 miles a day is a lot if you’re just starting to ride. Ride at weekends building up to 20 miles. Try doing you commute ride on weekends to find best routes and time it takes.

    Good luck, read other comments on this blog for advise.

  127. thanks moser! i did read all the comments just got excited by the time i got to the end and couldn’t wait to reply. i, like a few others here, really appreciate your straightforward style.

    you’re right about 40 miles being a longshot as far as a starting point goes…i’m just so excited. i will take your advice though and test/workup my stamina as soon as i get a bike.

  128. Should you get measured for your new bike? Absolutely right. The size of the wheels and the frame determine the overall size of the bike; then you adjust seat and handle height.

    Make sure that when you adjust the height of the seat and the handle of a candidate bike on the store, you can sit at a comfortable position for your back, and that when you pedal, your knee never goes to an angle of less than 90 degrees.

    The second condition is specially important; otherwise you would be abusing your knees, which can lead to serious injury in the long run.

    A good rule of thumb is that when you sit on the bike, you should touch the floor only with your toes. Having the correct position with respect of the crank axis is not only healthy, but improves performance!

  129. Jessdoe
    How are you getting on? Have you got a bike yet? If not I would suggest you obtain one the right size and start riding before the excitement fades.

    80% of bike fit is comfort. I don’t think we should get into bike fit on this blog as it’s a completely different subject

    Remember the goal was to ride to and from work not to be an Olympian. That can come later.

  130. Naib,

    I go 16 miles to work and 16 miles back home 5 days a week and hit the trails 10 to 20 miles on the weekend. Cycling is the wave of the future when it comes to an individual’s health and longevity or in other words hopefully it means a longer more healthy future for the cyclist. Yes, I am saving the green. In 2 ways, might I add. I contribute to maintaining green environment and on top of that there is more green ($$) in my pocket.

    Your article should be considered Cyclist Gospel. I agree with you 100%. The Benefits will always outweigh the “Buts”! Thanks for such a refreshing article.

  131. i rode my bike to work today for the first time and loved it! 23 miles to the coast…now the 23 miles back home! i’m so glad to see that more people are doing this. our earth loves us for it!

  132. One has to love the hypocrisy of the “ride my bike to work ’cause it’s natural and healthy” and “wipe down with lots of Axe to mask the stink with toxic chemicals”…

    Here’s to hoping you get cancer, and _then_ get run over by a truck.

  133. this is a great article..

    i am going to buy a bike (hopefully tomorrow) to get to work and back…. im having trouble with my sister’s car… usually i borrow hers… and today she has been a totaly witch about it… despite me paying her petrol money and probably more so than she invests in petrol….

    so im getting a bike. I have to ride 23 km but i have walked back from work all the way and it doesnt take so long.. 2.5 hours at first then when i got the hang of it it took me 1.5 hours!

    anyways i have some weight to lose so this could be a good investment

    thanks so much

  134. Great job on the article.
    I have a but for you, though.
    Where I live, it rains A LOT, and I can’t get wet.

  135. Absolutely issbill. It’s why cycling isn’t for everyone. I find riding in the rain is exhilarating.

    Rule one, install mudguards/fenders. I rode in the rain for years in London and now in Seattle.

  136. Good blog. I ride my bike to work at least once a week (my work week is three days long). The total round trip is 54 miles. My co-workers already thought I was nuts, but this just put it over the top. “There is no way i’d do that crazy $%*&” they say. What they fail to understand though is that on the days that I ride to work, I feel better than I do on the days when I ride in the car! A lot of these guys ride motorcycles, and when they make fun, I tell them “Any
    p%@@* can ride his lazy rear on a motor-bike. A real man can pedal!”

    As far as supplies for the ride, I try to ride as light as possible. There are showers at my workplace, so I take all of my clothes, grooming supplies, and food for the day I ride to work with me in a duffel on the first day of the week in my car. It works out great! I get to ride, get my exercise in, and make money!

  137. This is a great article.

    I’m from manila, philippines and been biking to work for 4 months now. I do it as my prepation in joining a ironman event.

  138. Wow – 2 years on, and this article is still pulling comments.

    I started riding to work 2 years ago (about 5 miles each way), and had all the issues mentioned above .. heat, lack of showers, others thinking you are nuts.

    I still live 5 miles from work, but my commute route can now take me up to 50 miles occasionally. If the weather is nice enough, I will leave a few hours early and head to work via the hills (massive detour)

    2 years later, about 1/3 of the managers at my company now all ride bikes, and several commute daily. We have a big room inside the building now for bike parking, and it includes a fully equipped workshop – stands, tools, spare tubes, chain lube, cleaning area, etc.

    I never asked for any of this, or tried to ‘convert’ anyone – they just saw how much fun I was having, how much money I was saving, and how much better I was putting in at work. They started to join up one by one.

    Sometimes when we have people from other companies come over to do business, the subject of bikes comes up (because of all the bikes everywhere) .. and we find fellow cyclists amongst our visitors. This instant bond with visitors can be a very positive thing.

    Attitudes are changing.

    We often get a group of guys from work together to ride in charity events, and things like the Tour Down Under E’Tape (since thats where we are based – Adelaide, Australia). I would say without a doubt, that as fellow employees, we understand each other a hell of a lot better, when we get back from a weekend of suffering together over the same hills, under the same sun.

    Keep persisting with this people – continue to set an example .. and change will follow.

  139. Great information to share with everyone. I try to ride as often as I can. Even though I’m only a couple miles away from work, the roads are so terrible in my town that its sometimes more pain than its worth. I guess I should just ride a mountain bike instead of a road bike.

  140. I work 4 miles from home Napa CA, I commute 6 months a year and found out the day starts better when i exercise i can handle stress better and feel and look better, going to work go slow going back home give all you can and sweat like a pig.. i have no showers at work but we are working on that.

  141. Ahh. Totally agree. I just love the feeling when I whizz past all those tired/frustrated office goers waiting in a queue during peak hour. The only problem is that during summers I end up a stinking sweat bag at my destination. This can be a bad thing if you don’t have a shower at the destination.

  142. I biked to work for many years and then 25 years ago stopped. I recently bought a bike again and am working up to riding the commute distance of 8 miles I will need to accomplish in order to get to work. Some of the issues I faced in the past and will deal with again include: — business clothes issue — I usually wear dresses and will stash a few in my office
    — bikes are stolen frequently in downtown LA — I’m going to enter via the loading dock and take the freight elevator, I located a storage type area near the freight elevator to lock my bike.
    — grooming issue and stodgy firm issue — I will get to work earlier than almost everyone & clean myself taking a “sponge bath” in the ladies room — I may even have to wash my hair/blow dry it at work due to helmet head syndrome.
    I use to ride through some tough neighborhoods with kids all out in the street, but they were always respectful and never even made rude remarks. There’s more traffic in LA now than before, but I’m mapping out my street routes now to take advantage of less traveled roads.
    I can’t wait to get started again!

  143. I will be commuting to work via the bike, and I have to travel 18 miles to get there…I have a mountain bike…Any advice for the trip?

  144. Rashod — If you haven’t already thought of these things:
    1) do a trial run on a day you are not actually going to work to check out your route more carefully;
    2) figure out in advance where along the route you can stop if necessary for a bathroom break;
    3) check out where you may be able to stop for a quick repair — or just air for tires;
    4) make sure you have sufficient lighting on you or your bike and think about buying reflective tape for your helmet since the days are getting shorter (assuming you are in the Northern Hemisphere);
    5) if possible connect with a co-worker, friend or family member who knows you will be riding your bike to work so that you may call someone if there is a bike emergency and you need a lift — alternatively what public transport along your route is available to load your bike on if there is a problem.

    Happy riding and Best Wishes! You will really enjoy yourself and feel great at the end of the day!

  145. Really trustworthy blog. Please keep updating with great posts like this one. I have booked marked your site and am about to email it to a few friends of mine that I know would enjoy reading..

  146. What I hear when people raise objections like that is they really don’t to bike to work. There was a recent article NYTimes I think about all the money women spend on their hair, which sweating under a helmet during a ride would undo.

    I think most people just don’t get it, that they are being influenced to drive because they are consuming more as they drive and can go further and carry more cargo, again consuming more. Bikers carry less, are less unhappy and so less likely to buy what they don’t need.

  147. I enjoyed reading your piece and all the comments. I ride 4 miles to work every day that I can. I love it for all the reasons others have already mentioned. It’s nice to hear from people who do the same.

  148. If anyone here has experience using a shower and locker room at the workplace, I’d love to hear how you keep your stuff in your locker, especially after you shower. I’m preparing to take the plunge into bike commuting. My workplace offers a gym, showers, and a locker room. The thing I can’t figure out is what to do with a wet towel after the shower. Put it in the locker? Won’t it get funky and stinky? If anyone here has tips on this part of the process, I’d love to hear them.

  149. @214 Jason,

    Use a fast-drying synthetic chamois-type towel, you’ll find them for car washing, and also hiker/camper supply.

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